35,000 Feet

by bkajlich

Love me some Virgin America. Wireless internet while I fly 🙂

I am Seattle bound. Heading home to see the family, and on a heavier note, attend the memorial service for the father of my best friend.  He was an amazing man, professionally and personally.  He was an exceptional Dad.  This is the second blow that this brilliant family has experienced in a very short time period.  A year and a half ago they lost their vibrant, beautiful, one of a kind mother.  The three children are a living testament to the incredible heart and depth of soul that this couple possessed.  The world has lost two beautiful beacons of light, but no doubt their legacy of love and passion will live on in my dear friend and her two siblings.

My sit today was mandatory as I am not the world’s best flyer.  I do it because I refuse to allow a fear to rule my life, and career wise it’s a must.  I have a bizarre love/hate relationship with takeoff, and once in the air I’m ok… unless the flight is a long one, and then I begin to get a taaaaaad claustraphobic.  I am particularly fond of a memory of my brother and I flying to Sweden from Seattle.  We woke up the morning of our flight to find our hometown absolutely COVERED in snow.  At the airport, no stateside flights were departing… but oh not to worry, our long ass transatlantic haul was right on time.  We sat on the tarmac as the crew informed us there would be a slight delay while they de-iced the plane.  “DE-ICE THE PLANE??” I stammered, “what does THAT mean???”  My brother, trying to lighten the mood, replied “oh some guy’s just gonna get on the wing with his credit card.”  We giggled a bit and then suddenly, outside my window a man appeared on the wing with some odd device… Hilarious now, not so much at the time.  I boarded my flight today, settled into my seat, closed my eyes and begin my familiar routine. Focus on the breath, inhale in, exhale out.  I felt the butterflies settle.  I peeked to the left at my seatmate, wondering if he had caught on to my neurosis.  I contemplated for a moment just coming clean, but I chickened out and kept to myself.  Our take off was uneventful and even enjoyable.  As I gazed out the window, I thought about how weird it is that you spend a whole flight with someone right next to you and most times at the end of it, you don’t even know their name.(my mother, by the way, is the exception to that rule.  She departs her flights with people’s entire life stories, home addresses and promises to name their unborn children after her) I think about how much better my flying experience would feel if I could just turn to the person next to me and say, “hi, my name is Bianca and I’m a little scared.  Would you mind holding my hand as we take off?(fyi, my mother holds people’s hands REGULARLY on flights) Flights aren’t the only place where I think about the great divide between people in close proximity.  What about emergency rooms and doctors offices, elevators, subways and buses, the list goes on and on.  A couple months ago, I had a little bit of an emotional breakdown in the christmas aisle at Target. I was running a few errands and hadn’t expected to see the holiday decorations out so early.  It was to be my first Christmas on my own in eight years.  I was embarrassed by the sudden burst of emotion in the middle of the store, but more than anything, I just wanted to be comforted.  I remember thinking how sad it was that here I was, surrounded by people in a bustling store, and there was no one to turn to.  On an intellectual level, I understand that in this day and age there are reasons to be suspicious and fearful of some of the people on this planet.  But in the depths of my heart… I just don’t get it.  We are all in this together.  We are all just trying to get by and survive.  What a world this would be if in any given moment you could turn to anyone around you and connect, have a moment, be honest, be real.  Tomorrow I will be in a room full of people celebrating the life of a man who made a difference in theirs.  Most of us will be strangers to each other, but we will have the common bond of being connected to this great man.  In times of trouble, in times of sadness, sorrow, and tragedy, people come together.  We forget our suspicions and fear and reach out to each other.  Look at Haiti.  Why do we let that go? At the end of my flight today, I turned to the man sitting next to me and reached out my hand; “Hi I’m Bianca.”  Strangers no more. xx